Monday, February 21, 2011

Nails of Change

I am only three chapters into the book when the familiar weariness seeps in.  Decades of illness have ravaged my body, left my mind grasping about for comprehension and retention.

I remember now why I haven't finished many books since I entered my 20s, since the symptoms became my life.  I can count those books on one hand and not use all my fingers.

Year by year, I have learned the ways of this strange and muddled brain, found the secrets to weaving information into dark recesses that don't want to be filled.  But they aren't the easiest of ways.

I read each chapter twice, sometimes again, marking the pages with ink to remember what's important.  Then hours writing notes by hand, jotting down the words I've highlighted and recording each thought, each question, each moment of revelation along the way.

In the end, I know the content of a chapter well enough for it to seep down deep to the places of soul change and perspective shift.  Even when I can't recite it from my head, I can feel it in my being and know that I am moving forward, being remade.

But hours of labor take a toll on this body marked by weakness.  I rarely make it halfway through a whole before closing the book and sliding it back into its place to collect dust.

I hit the wall a little sooner with Ann's book.  It is deep and rich, layer upon layer of soul truth reaching me in the place where I am.  I process all of it in my sleep, at my desk, in the grocery store.  And I change and I open and I see how life can never be the same again.

And I want this.  Oh how I want this.

But I grow weary in the journey to understand and remember.  I grow weary and I start to give up.

So I return to Chapter Two and read this again:
"A nail is driven out by another nail; habit is overcome by habit."  Erasmus said that, contemporary and admirer of Martin Luther....  I look down at the pen, this pen I keep wielding, one writing her way all the way to one thousand.  This pen:  this is nothing less than the driving of nails.  Nails driving out my habit of discontent and driving in my habit of eucharisteo [thanksgiving].  I'm hammering in nails to pound out nails, ugly nails that Satan has pierced through the world, my heart.  It starts to unfold, light in the dark, a door opening up, how all these years it's been utterly pointless to try to wrench out the spikes of discontent.  Because the habit of discontentment can only be driven out by hammering in one iron sharper.  The sleek pin of gratitude.  (Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts, pg 49-50)
And I wonder if I have made a habit of giving in to the weariness that haunts my days.  I wonder if I can hammer out the nail of giving up and giving in by pounding in the new nail of pressing on--and maybe take my life back from the one who always whispers, "You can't do this."

I don't know, but I think it's worth a try, and I pick up the hammer and start in on Chapter Four.  I read it, learn it.  It is beautiful and it changes me a little more.  And I press on, feeling the old nail give way just a bit.

But Chapter Five comes and hits me hard in the place of loss.  I stop marking up the pages, and for the first time, I shut the book and don't want to open it again.  I shut the gratitude journal, too, and only two things find their way onto the list that day.

The second one comes late at night when I awake in the dark and wonder at the light outside my window.  I climb out of bed to pull back the shade, and I see it there high in the sky.  Big, beautiful moon lighting up the night.  As I fumble in the dark to find the Book of Thanks, I know it then that something is different, that I am different.  And I can't stop now just because Truth is hard, cuts deep, asks for everything I have.

It's too dark to see the page, the lines, the words--so I write it slow and crooked, hoping it can still be read when the daylight breaks:  #180  Moon so full and bright I can't look without squinting.

Come morning, I open the book again, pick up the pen, and hammer in a few more nails.  Change is coming.  It has already begun.  And this time, I'm going to see it through.

No.

He is going to see it through.

He hands me the Truth Nails, lets me make a choice.  Today I pick up the hammer and choose to pound them in.  And tomorrow I'll choose the same.  I have to.  The fullest life--the life I want, the life I was created for--my life depends on it.

All our lives depend on it.




#153  Quiet house, lazy morning, day without work

#154  Rainwater streaming into gutters

#155  Drops of rain glistening on tiny branches, like diamonds adorning the trees

#156  Basket overflowing with colorful scarves, brimming with cheer

#157  Raindrops cold on my nose as I hurry into the store

#158  Grocery store aisles laden with flowers for all those Valentine givers

#159  Getting to smell jasmine in bloom in the middle of February

#160  White orchids with deep purple splotches

#161  Stopping in the middle of grocery shopping to write down gifts, give thanks

#162  Stream of hot hair, drying the hair and warming the cold of morning

#163  Annabelle Cate with wild eyes, chasing after things unseen

#164  Reading Ann's words, "Wherever you are, be all there," then opening a teabag to read, "Wherever you go, go with all your heart."  Yes, You are in the details.

#165  Three amaryllis blooms open wide, four more just days away from showing face

#166  Last swish of tea from the cup--all spicy and peachy

#167  Lion-sized purrs from a pint-sized kitty

#168  Purple phone and purple pen sitting atop the purple Journal of Thanks

#169  Smell of oranges lingering on my fingertips

#170  Bright blue sky at day's beginning

#171  Nails of change being hammered into the framework of my life

#172  Morning sun glistening on willow tree buds

#173  Lone bird perched at the tippy top of the tree next door

#174  One small cloud puff adrift in a sea of blue

#175  Kitty ears glowing translucent in the sunlight

#176  Two cats taking baths in separate sun spots

#177  Smooth, silky feel of the scarf draping around my neck

#178  Sound of hail on a tin roof

#179  Down jacket making the cold morning cozy.

#180  Moon so full and bright I can't look without squinting

#181  Frosted rooftops glistening at daybreak

#182  Cat on hind legs, focused hard on birds outside the window

#183  Photos of a girl hanging all in a row, snapshots of my sister who lives a world away

#184  Cold, crisp apple

#185  The way Truth trickles down through cracks in our souls, brings new life from the inside out

#186  The courage to face fears long enough to let words come out

#187  Snow-covered mountain coming out of hiding, looming large on the quite horizon

#188  Bald eagle circling slow in a cloudless morning sky

#189  Afternoon nap in a sun-baked bedroom

#190  Homemade scones baked to perfection

#191 Pink and white slippers on clearance after Valentine's Day

#192  Green plates, purple-flowered napkins for a tea party

#193  Mom who bakes scones, puts up with my angst, loves me

#194  Tea menus

#195  Cat who rolls around on the floor just because

#196  Discovering forgotten photos that bring spring to life

#197  Sunlight lasting longer, days lingering on

#198  Conditioner to keep the curls from running my life

#199  Saying I love you--please be good to the cats when I leave the house

#200  Driving to church while the sun hangs low in a winter sky

#201  That He calls me friend, daughter, sister--that He calls me His

#202  Pink socks peeking out from black shoes

#203  Noodles in a cup, dinner on the run--letting the ministry come first

#204  The impulse to open the gratitude journal when unkind words make my heart hurt

#205  That Jesus calls my singing a joyful noise, even when others only hear noise

#206  Stubborn cat who won't be pushed from a lap

#207  Stubborn God Who won't be pushed from a life.

4 comments:

  1. You're words leave me wanting to cheer you on!

    Don't put down that hammer... keep it up... you can do it!

    Your list is beautiful

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  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  3. I’m visiting from Ann’s today. I know it’s Wednesday – but there are so many lists!!

    I’m much older than you – but I get your illness – without even knowing the details. I average only a few hours of restful sleep a night – and it’s been that way more than a decade – and it too has ravaged my body and mind. I get the reading and rereading – all of it. Our thorns in the flesh. I just said a prayer for you - for you to keep fighting the brave fight.

    I always pick a favorite - and my favorite of yours today was ~ #206 Stubborn cat who won't be pushed from a lap #207 Stubborn God Who won't be pushed from a life. (Had to choose these two because I have both!!)

    God Bless you and all of yours this day.

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